Futures were poised to add to post-election losses, as intensified worries about the global economy outweighed a sharp Bank of England interest rate drop.
Traders briefly sent futures up after the BOE slashed its key lending rate 1.5 percentage points to 3 percent, but the momentum quickly stalled. and stocks were poised to drop 1 percent or more off the opening.
"They're coming to the party with some big numbers--certainly a surprise--but the reaction in the States was more muted than what I would have guessed," Kevin Ferry, of Cronus Futures Management, said on CNBC. "Certainly a welcomed addition to the party. Even though they're coming late they're coming big."
The market was largely unfazed by the weekly jobless-claim report, which showed the number of workers filing first-time claims for unemployment insurance fell by 4,000to 481,000 last week, in-line with expectations. The prior week, however, was revised to 485,000 from 479,000. The four-week moving average, which smooths out weekly fluctuations, was unchanged at 477,000.
Cisco shares declined after the networking-gear maker warned late Wednesday that its revenue could drop as much as 10 percentin the current quarter as the economic slump spreads to Europe and Asia.
And Toyota slashed its annual operating profit forecast by more than half, as the financial crisis hit auto demand, cut access to credit and sent the yen higher.
Toyota shares tumbled 7 percent in premarket trading.
Enthusiasm from the election of Democrat Barack Obama as the new president failed to cheer the stock market, which shed 5 percent Wednesday despite hopes that a new administration could help reverse what ails the economy.